NORWAY - THE LONLIEST PART OF THE PLANET?
Wandering Welshman Dai Clyant
'I then realised that I hadn't introduced
myself to the mountain.
This is very important, and as soon as I did, I was welcomed'.
So, as the ferry
moved up the West coast of Norway from Sogndal, I had the chance to
see the fjords. And what a sight. The mountains, lakes and waterfalls
were stunning. The sun was shining (again), the sky was blue and the
sea was smooth and clear. I'd highly recommend this as the way to get
up North from Bergen. Many tourists on the ferry, mainly Americans.
It was funny how they all wanted to capture the best shot on their cameras.
Something about capturing Norway and taking a bit home? But it then
came to me that pictures, no matter how good, will never capture the
moment of taking the picture. On film there are no smells, tastes or
feelings. So pictures just an aide memoire to help re-enact the moment.
So that would explain why seing someone else's holiday snaps, no matter
how well took, will never be the same as seing your own. (And will probably
explain why it can be boring.)
After a few hours we arrived in Sogndal. First moment of panic, where's
the bloody bus station? And of course I then asked someone who pointed
to the other side of the road. Blind as a bat sometimes. Better start
wearing my glasses. Phoned onto my destination for the night, a lovely
hotel (according to the Lonely Planet guide) set up in the West side
of the Jotenheimen national Park, in Turtagro. (I hope I've still got
some money on my Visa card after using the phone). Got the bus only
as far as Gaupne as no last bus to Fortun to meet my lift. Brilliant.
So bus driver, good man, sorted me out a taxi for the last bit. Bus
45 Krona, taxi 500 Krona! Never mind, good to get to a bed. So I arrived
at the designated spot, at the right time. And waited, and waited............
One hour later, thought they must have forgotten. A local man stopped
and asked if I needed help and a place to crash. But I though I'd wait
(mad) and see what happened. Some nice cats in Fortun if you're ever
there, very friendly, but NO TELEPHONE BOXES!!!! You have been warned.
The nearest was 3km away.
So with aheavy heart (and heavier rucksack) I started walking towards
the phone, whilst checking out possible places to crash in a field or
bus shelter. Funny place to be I was thinking, it's past midnight, I'm
in a mountain village in the middle of nowhere with two cats for company
and I'm happy!
So I walked for about two minutes and Tonja, my lift, turns up. "Why
didn't you call, I've been worried?" It's then I pointed out the
lack of phone boxes. "Why didn't you use the taxi drivers?"
Bugger, never thought of that. So if you are anywhere out in the country
in Norway, in a taxi, ask the driver if you can use their phone.
Funny how mis-understandings are cross languages. But also how not speaking
the language can lead to the clearest of situations. So, after a breakneck
drive to the hotel (Tonja is a class downhill skier I found out later)
found out that the old hotel, the home of Norwegian mountaineering,
had sadly burnt down. It's interesting that many of the places I want
to visit this year are starting to disappear. All things change, nothing
is permanent. Had a beer with some other guests who were still up and
finally crashed out. Interesting the feeling I have when walking into
a room of unknown people, who I assume know each other. The 'unknown'
is always uncomfortable, but also makes me feel 'alive' at the same
time. Outside of comfort zone I suppose.
Next day got up at the crack of 11 or 12, staggered downstairs had good
hot shower and some coffee. Very friendly people running the place,
Tonja (a good cook as well as mad driver and good backgammon player)
and Wilhelm (solid bloke). In the day I had a wander around the mountains.
The sun was still shining (and of course I didn't bring sun screen,
hat etc... thinking that "It's Norway, it'll be cold". Yeah
right. And then I realised why people where snow shoes/skis to get around,
I was upto my thighs in snow a couple of times, but good fun. Finally
scrambled back down to the hotel via a scree slope, and then shower,
food and BEER!
Funny how people change when their other half turns up, images of self
and other again?
J. Krishnamurti has written some excellent thoughts on relationships.
Very good. And one of the many books I've taken with me. As the evening
progressed lots of local workers turn up and it`s time to play, How
loud can you talk in your mother tongue! So not speaking Norwegian (Eg
snakker insher Norshka - useful phrase) I went outside and sat with
the mountains and stars. And it was bloody freezing! But gorgeous. People
who leave parties to sit on their own, do they really want company or
not? Still haven't come to the bottom of that one. Finally hit the sack
(lovely rooms) and then awoke the next day at the ungodly hour of 10:30
(yes I like my sleep). Shower, breakfast and coffee x 3.
woken up. What shall I do today? It's raining outside, but no snow
treks this time.
Tonja and Wilhelm seemed a bit more relaxed together this morning,
or was it me. Sorted out a sarnie and some local sugary drink and
ventured out. Ended up on a very quiet mountain road that went up
about 4,000 ft. Gorgeous mountains, snow and waterfalls. As I neared
the top of the mountain I felt as though I was not wanted there.
I then realised that I hadn't introduced myself to the mountain.
This is very important, and as soon as I did, I was welcomed. Funny
feeling. All the while the clouds had been piling up and it was
getting a bit cold, but at the top the clouds broke, the sun shone
and there was a wonderful view across the valley. What a place to
As I stopped to
take some drink, a bloke stopped in a car "....... hike...... ?"
I assumed that he was saying it was a good day for a hike, but rather
than tell him I couldn't speak Norwegian, I mumbled something like "Ja,
good day" looked longingly at the clouds and waited for him to
make the next move. He then mumbled something and drove off. At which
point I felt like a pillock. Why didn't I tell him I couldn't speak
Norwegian? Tourist/local thing again? Self image of being capable, reliable?
Acting from the ego I think and not my centre. Easy feeling coming from
centre when on my own, but real insight comes when talking with people.
And let your heart be the anchor, And the beat of your own song..."
© Dai Clyant 2001
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